Team Oh Canada not getting any younger

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

EDMONTON - It’s not to be compared to Team Penske.

But Team Oh Canada came into existence Monday, at least in a promotional sort of way, at a press conference for the July 23-25 Honda Indy Edmonton.

Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani were here, presented as the two Team Oh Canada drivers for the race.

And while the idea was to unveil a new ticket promotion between now and July 4 where everybody purchasing three-day passes to the event will be entered in a draw to send two pairs of people to the Honda Indy Toronto to pit for both Tracy and Tagliani, it opened a discussion about how much longer there would be Canadian talent in IndyCar racing and IndyCar racing here.

Will Edmonton be Tracy’s last IndyCar event?

Or will Tracy be racing in Edmonton’s last IndyCar race?

Tracy spoke with some passion on the subject.

“The history of Canadian motorsport is very long and very deep and almost every one of us has won an IndyCar race,” said the driver of the Canadian stars of open wheel racing.

Actually, Tracy is one of the most successful of them all with a record 31 in ChampCar wins and a second in an Indy 500 which involved a controversial finish that many believed he was hosed out of winning.

Tracy wonders where the next Canadian drivers will be coming from.

“I’m not getting any younger. I’m in my 40s and Alex is getting there,” said the 42-year-old of the 37-year-old Tagliani.

“Other than Honda Canada there’s really nobody big in the corporate world for Canadian races and drivers like Player’s used to be. The Player’s driver development program made a big difference. I came through that program. Alex came up through that support system.”

Tagliani said Canadian drivers have a special status in Canada.

“I feel very fortunate to be from Canada where we’ve had CART then ChampCar and now IRL IndyCar races,” said last year’s Indy 500 Rookie of the Year who qualified on the second row for this year’s race and finished 10th.

“We have a lot of drivers from a lot of places where they don’t have the opportunity to race in an event like this in their own country. We’ve had that opportunity. That’s why you see Paul and I working really hard to promote races in Canada. I think it will be a big loss for your city if you lose the race.”

Tracy will be racing his third IRL race here after three ChampCar events.

And while the Thrill From West Hill is from Toronto, he’s been an promoter for this place whether there’s been a sponsorship package to provide a ride or not.

“This is the hardest race on the circuit, bar none,” he told the media Monday.

“I came to Edmonton last year on relatively short notice and did OK, finishing sixth. But it took a lot out of me. I left the race pretty tired. You can think you’re in pretty good shape, but until you race here you don’t know if you’re really in pretty good shape.”

Tracy said IndyCar lost Vancouver because the venue went away with the construction of the Olympic Village.

“It’s now found a home here in Edmonton and everybody loves the race, loves the venue and loves the atmosphere.

“Edmonton is a huge sports town and this is a big-time event. It would be a shame for this to go away. I’m excited I have the chance to drive two more races in Canada. To me the Canadian races have always been the biggest events of the year.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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